“Everybody, dish up!”
For me, those three words are the most glorious part of Thanksgiving, not so much an invitation as a starter’s gun. I sprint to the table, box out my mother and my grandparents, and throw a few elbows to keep my sister away from the gravy—you know, the buffet fundamentals.
But at Thanksgiving, “dishing up” can quickly fade from a joyful dance to a walk of shame. Every time I sit down at the Thanksgiving table, I hear cries of regret:
“How did I get, like, zero turkey?”
“Oh I way overdid it on the gravy.”
“Where did you get that green bean casserole? I didn’t see that!”
“There were rolls? I missed the rolls!???! AaaaAAAAAaaaA”
You don’t want to end up crying for help like those poor suckers above, so listen closely: to nail Thanksgiving, you have to make the perfect plate.
Building the perfect plate is difficult because evolution never anticipated potlucks. The human mind is not built for the complex mental equations that you must solve in Thanksgiving scenarios.
Now, you can’t fix your dumb monkey brain, but you can still build a brilliant plate with grace and poise—you just have to stick to my patented 8-step formula:
STEP 1: TAKE A VISUAL DRY RUN
Dishing up without being aware of every available dish is like riding a motorcycle blindfolded. Don’t do it. Walk past every surface with food on it; make a mental list of what’s available.
STEP 2: THINK LIKE A BUSINESS MAJOR
Business majors love pie charts, and on Thanksgiving, you should too. Divide your plate into six unique sections: five equal wedges and a circle in the center.
STEP 3: THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Everything orbits around turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. Pile these stalwarts up in three of your five main sections.
STEP 4: GRAVY TRAIN
Slather your turkey, stuffing, and mashers in the good stuff. (Don’t forget to make a large depression in your potatoes so the gravy can pool.)
STEP 5: SELECTIVE SIDES
Fill the remaining two-fifths of your outer wheel with variety—green beans, yams, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, etc. Go wild!
STEP 6: CRANBERRY SPLASH
That hole you left in the middle? Pack that baby with cranberry sauce. Now you can pull tart, sweet flavors into every part of your meal.
STEP 7: STARCH ON TOP
Whether you prefer a dinner roll or a slice of toast, it will sit beautifully atop the cranberry you just laid down.
STEP 8: COWABUNGA!!!
Eat! Eat! Eat!
I recommend eating your first plate while everyone else is still dishing up. When you sprint back for seconds, people won’t even realize you already mainlined 2,000 calories.